Summertime Happy Hour: Fresh Tomato and Feta Bruschetta

Every time we go to the beach, I’m in charge of happy hour. It’s become such a tradition that my family doesn’t do it if I’m not there. It’s nice to have a purpose, I guess.

I enjoy a happy hour on a normal day, but it’s especially significant on the porch, at the beach, during vacation. You can sip a cool, refreshing cocktail, nibble on something savory and soak up the atmosphere — whether it’s watching the ant-farm family across the street or just enjoying a nice breeze blowing in from the ocean. Continue reading

I'm (not) gonna soak up the sun.

Oliver and I spent a few days at the beach last weekend, for the first and only time this summer. I had grand ideas of slathering myself in sunscreen and pitching a chair on the strand all day with a stack of reading material. Then I realized how much of a hassle that is. It’s hot. I’d have to shave my legs. I don’t swim in the ocean. And I don’t particularly like sand. I’ll take a pool over the beach any day. Plus, the older I get the less I really care about a tan.

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Reveling in my happy place.

It’s January, and Oliver and I are wrapping up our last day at the beach. That may sound pretty incongruous, to spend a winter weekend at a summer destination. But this beach, not just any beach, is my happy place.

Sure, I’ve spent every minute huddled inside, save for an hour-long walk in the sun a few days ago, but that’s what makes it the most relaxing place I know. It’s quiet even at the height of the summer season, which to many would be quite boring. I find that I don’t rest and relax at home simply because there’s always something to do. When I find myself elsewhere, with no projects or places to go, I truly let my hair down. And that’s just good for the soul. Plus, where there is no obvious fun, you can bring your own.
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Lollygagging.

It’s not often that I am truly at leisure. Even during the weekends, there’s always something pulling me away. A dog that needs walking. Homework that needs doing. Friends that need seeing. Plants that need watering. A meal that needs cooking. A garden that needs weeding. A wall that needs painting. A whole house that needs cleaning.

You get the idea.

But a week ago today I quit my job. Don’t worry, there’s one awaiting me. I just decided to take a much needed vacation during the job transition limbo. And because God’s timing is perfect, my vacation happened to fall in summer and near a national holiday … which meant I could enjoy July 4th weekend at the beach. So I’ve been lollygagging for the past few days, with nary a care in the world. There’s no work to be done, no phones to answer and no dire emails to be returned … at least for now.

It’s a revelation to wake up every day after a 10-hour slumber, have coffee on the porch in the humid ocean breeze and wonder what I’ll do with my day. Sun? Reading? A walk? Television? Playing on the Internet? A nap?

These days we live to plan each night’s dinner, and the wine and spirits flow at 3 p.m. Even though the plan was to be home by now, we’ve all looked at each other for several days in a row and said “Wanna stay another day?” Sure. Okay.

You’d think I’d be bored out of my mind by such leisure, but it’s nice to slow down, walk on some sand, soak up the sunshine and enjoy out of doors. I’ve already read two whole books and am working through the third. Most importantly, I was appointed cook during our visit. The farmer’s market is nearby, so we’ve relished the season’s best produce. I’ve been practicing all the southern delicacies that are traditions of summer:  pimento cheese, boiled peanuts, squash, okra, butter beans, creamed corn, lowcountry shrimp boil and many, many peach cobblers. Someday I’ll get around to posting some of those recipes.

The point is that it has been bliss. Extraordinary, uncommon bliss. And I can appreciate it because I know it won’t last.

Project runaway.

I ran away from home last weekend.

This semester I’m responsible for reading 80 pages of finance text every week, calculating homework problems, plus reading 3-5 management articles and answering short answer homework on those.

Overwhelming.

We began plotting an escape to the beach at the beginning of the week, even though it’s far past summer and the weather has turned chilly. I begged out of class early on Thursday, and I can work remotely from anywhere. So luckily, our plan went off without a hitch. Keep reading »